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Ghibli Museum Closes on February 25-March 17 Due to COVID-19 Coronavirus Concerns

posted on by Egan Loo
Square Enix scales back Final Fantasy XI, XIV presence at PAX East

The Ghibli Museum announced on Saturday that it will be closed from February 25 to March 17 due to concerns over the COVID-19 coronavirus disease. The museum noted that the metropolis of Tokyo issued a policy statement about postponing or canceling events until mid-March, as these next three weeks are a critical period for containing the outbreak. The museum made its decision after consulting with its home city of Mitaka.

The museum has already been offering refunds for tickets dated between January 22 and February 29. As of Saturday, the museum will now offer refunds for March tickets as well.

In a separate development, Square Enix announced on Friday that staff members from Japan will not be attending PAX East due to the COVID-19 coronavirus situation. As a result, it is scaling down its planned activities onsite and offsite, including canceling the Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV Fan Gatherings as well as the developer signing sessions and photo opportunities. It is replacing "The Artwork of Final Fantasy XIV: A Look Behind the Screen" panel session onsite with a live English/Japanese stream on Twitch, and it is planning to replace an onsite Final Fantasy XI presentation with a different way to deliver the same information.

Sony announced on Wednesday that it is also not participating in the event due to concerns about the COVID-19 coronavirus. The event runs in Boston from February 27 to March 1.

The first reported cases of the COVD-19 coronavirus occurred in Wuhan, China in December, and then began to spread in varying rates and intensities across many parts of the globe through incubation in human hosts. The World Health Organization (WHO) declared a world health emergency on January 30. As of Friday, the WHO reported that there are 76,769 infected individuals worldwide, with 75,569 of them in China and 93 official cases in Japan proper. (The Diamond Princess, a cruise ship docked in Yokohama, has an additional 634 infected individuals.) 2,239 individuals have died from the disease in China. The WHO had reported only one death in Japan on Wednesday, but as of Thursday morning, two individuals who were aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship have died in Japanese hospitals, bringing the total to three.

Sources: Ghibli Museum's website, Final Fantasy XI's website and Final Fantasy XIV's website via Siliconera

Update: The museum posted the announcement in English on Sunday.

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